- You can put your sponge in the dishwasher if it starts getting gross. Also, Dawn dish washing liquid rots sponges much faster than anything else I’ve used, which is sad because it really does a great job at cutting grease. I tend to use eco-friendly stuff because I’m a fantastic person.
- If your cast iron has been used but isn’t super dirty and doesn’t have anything majorly stuck to it, you can clean it with vegetable oil instead of water. I know that people say it’s ok to use (gentle) soap on your cast iron, but I never do. Hot water if necessary, steel wool, a tablespoon of oil, and putting it back on the hot burner to make sure the oil soaks in while you rub it in really well. No oil should remain sitting on the surface. Think of it as polishing, not lubricating. Excess oil will bead up and leave brown stains on the your pan.
- NEVER SOAK A CAST IRON PAN. Dry it as soon as it’s clean and rub it down with oil while heating it up.
- If you have particularly stubborn crap stuck on a stainless steel pan, pretend you’re going to a science fair and mix up some household vinegar and baking soda in the pan. Heat it (medium low) on the stove if you want it to work faster to get the crap off. This also works on cast iron, but you want to be careful to not eat away all your seasoning, so only do it in an emergency.
- Cast iron is the only way to really cook a steak on the stove, and I am willing to die on this hill.
- For sticker residue, alcohol and a good scrub tends to work pretty well to get it up. Hand sanitizer works too! For something harder to remove, like bumper sticker adhesive, WD-40 is a very good thing to have around.
- The same goes for permanent marker. Rubbing alcohol and/or WD-40 work very well. You can also use a normal pencil eraser to get most of it off something non-porous.
- Dry erase marker cleans up permanent marker or stuck-on dry erase marker on a whiteboard. So does alcohol. It will mess up colored markers if you use them to clean up black ink, though, so be careful.
- 70% isopropyl alcohol is better for cleaning wounds than higher strengths. I’m not sure why this is, but I know that it is science.
- Wayfair is cheap for a reason. That reason is that their stuff is cheaply made. However, their refund policy is pretty great.
- Gatorade powder is available in stores and much cheaper (and better for the planet) than buying it one bottle at a time.
- If you sew, you should have at least one pair of scissors that aren’t used for ANYTHING other than sewing. I have two pairs, one large and one small. If your (now former) sister-in-law uses your sewing scissors for something else even after you repeatedly told her not to, tell her that she sucks and go out and buy new scissors. Move out and take the good sewing machine since they’re both yours anyway.
- Buy a decent sewing machine if you can afford it. Cheap ones break down really easily and do sloppy work.
- Same with vacuum cleaners.
- Dryer balls really do help make sure all your towels and other absorbent/thick items all get dry. Do not overstuff your washer or dryer. It’s better to do a second load than have a bunch of wet towels you have to hang up.
- If your clothes are particularly smelly (socks, anything mildewed,) putting a cup of white vinegar in the washer with your detergent will usually take care of it.
- Buy a waterproof, washable mattress cover. You might think “this is not necessary,” and I would tell you that you are a fool. Especially if you drink liquids in bed, or you’re planning to get e-coli.
- Do not get e-coli. Maybe make sure there are no produce recalls or advisories before buying a salad from Dominos? Otherwise, when you wake up at 1:43 a.m. with the worst stomach cramps of your life and spend most of the rest of the night in the bathroom, you might end up stumbling on the article about tainted lettuce several hours too late.
- If your shoes are not comfortable, do not wear those shoes. I buy used and discounted clothing all the time, in fact, I rarely buy anything else. But I do not do this with shoes. Shoes are vitally important because your foot bones connect to all your other bones eventually, and shitty shoes can hurt your knees, hips, and back.
- If you are blessed with breasts, find a bra that fits and is comfortable to wear all day. If you still love it after a month, buy several more of them.
- You can buy cheap beauty and skincare stuff and get by just fine, but the expensive stuff is often worth a splurge.
- Take care of your skin so you don’t turn into a wrinkled old hag. Start doing this before you think it’s actually necessary. Otherwise you’ll have to invest a lot more into reversing the effects of sun damage, smoking, and general carelessness.
- The Dollar Tree medicine aisle often has the stuff you need, and everything’s a dollar. Pregnancy tests, ibuprofen, generic Benadryl, wound care stuff… I even got retinol cream there that I use on my eyes at night (see previous part about skincare.)
- That being said, name-brand Band-Aids are worth buying. Other brands (Curel!) make good stuff as well, but generic brands almost universally suck. Also, if you’re allergic to plastic bandaids, you might not be allergic to the fabric ones.
- If you need stuff like fitness equipment, a curling iron, socks or new tights, etc.,) check Marshalls or Ross to see if they have it before splurging somewhere else.
- If you have a milk sensitivity (not necessarily lactose intolerance; for me it isn’t the lactose) heavy cream might not set it off as much as milk does. Non-dairy creamer also seems to work for a lot of people and I can’t taste the difference in coffee and tea. Instead of using milk and butter in boxed mac n’ cheese (don’t you dare judge me) I often use heavy cream and maybe a little salt.
- Poshmark, Mercari, and eBay are great for when you want vintage or designer shit but you aren’t rolling in money, god damn it.
- https://www.remove.bg/ is a great way to remove the backgrounds from photos for free. See below.
I started this blog ten years ago this month. I didn’t realize that before I signed in to post, but it’s a neat little coincidence.
There’s a lot in here that I find embarrassing now. Several things I’m probably better off not looking into too deeply tonight. But I can’t bring myself to abandon it, even with all the ranting about a certain someone, even with all the bravado and outbursts and so much documentation of a time before I knew what was wrong with me and how to, mostly, stop.
I have a very sturdy government job and have been relatively stable and working in government jobs for years now. I’ve been with my partner since Summer 2014, and we eloped last month at our favorite bar. I did a jello shot. I seldom drink anymore. I quit smoking. I quit vaping. I got very fat. It is all very stable, for me, and I think the me of February 2010 would be horrified at how boring I’ve become. But I’m no longer tearing myself apart, and that’s worth something.
And here’s some Frank Turner to sum it all up:
I thought that suffering was something profound,
That weighed down on wise heads,
And not just something to be avoided,
Something normal people dread.
I’ll probably post more soon.
I just walked a mile and a half voluntarily. It’s part of my “I’m 35 now so I should probably get off my ass and try to make my life better” project. That might not sound like a lot of walking to you, but considering how sedentary I’ve been for the past nine months, it was an achievement.
I have my period this week, which usually (and currently) means dark moods and a deep well of depression that I have to continually back away from. In idle moments, my mind wanders and I start contemplating the futility of everything, and entropy, and the fact that it’s all basically meaningless. I have to pull myself away from that.
I see myself as basically stuck on this earth and in this life, and I know it’s my job to make the best of it and not bitch too much. I don’t really see the point sometimes, but I’m trying. What else can I do?
I have had a lot more energy! I want to get out and do things! I’m trying to get a job! But there’s not a lot to do, and no one has hired me yet, so there’s this drive to make progress but progress is very slow and not entirely under my control.
I was supposed to go swimming today, which means I proclaimed yesterday that I was GOING SWIMMING ON TUESDAY but it didn’t happen. I wasn’t exactly lazy, more exhausted. I knew that even if I got myself to the pool, which would be a bit of a slog, I wouldn’t have the energy to swim for an hour.
But the distance I just walked is further than that from here to the gym, so… maybe tomorrow? Maybe?
I am doing my best to stay away from the pit of despair and instead be hopeful and inspired and brave because, as I said, I’m stuck here. If I have to live this life, I might as well try to make it a good one. So that’s what I’m doing.
[Title song is Get Better by Frank Turner]
I turned 35 two days ago. I was pretty freaked-out by that number, but I’m feeling okay about it now. I still feel about 16, deep down. I’m trying to treat this birthday like a New Year, in that I’m making resolutions and trying to just… make my life better. You know?
It’s been months and months of sitting on my ass, feeling decrepit and sorry for myself, and I’m sick of it. I’m not back to 100% and there are things I can’t reasonably do, but there are a lot of things I can do and should at least try.
So I’m visiting doctors to try to get better, and taking my pills to try to stay sane, and I still feel like crap and kind of like dying, but there’s hope here as well, and that’s keeping me going.
When I turned 30, I freaked the hell out. I’m glad I’m not doing that now. Getting older is so weird. I don’t feel different, except in the ways that I do. Older, wiser maybe, a lot more exhausted. Today I’m swinging between panic and excitement.
So this post is just checking in, I guess. Hello, Internet. I’m still here.
[Title is from In Love But Not at Peace by Dar Williams.]
I just spent six days in the psych ward of Providence Portland hospital. It was boring, but I feel better.
Things had been shit for awhile. I’d had trouble leaving the house by myself for six months, only occasionally making it further than the grocery store without someone to keep me company. Most of the time that person was Travis.
Travis and I have been together since July, 2014. He is over eight years younger than me. He is quite tall, he plays the bass, and he is a good kisser.
Travis doesn’t want private details on the internet, so I’m going to try to be careful here.
When we met, I was a cab driver, and he worked at my local e-cigarette shop. He still works there, actually. I gave my number to the sweet boys at the vape shop, and he sent me a text one night asking for a ride. Two weeks later I went to his apartment and never really left. Sounds like the beginnings of a fantastic love story! And it was, kind of.
But I am troubled, you see. And he is not entirely without troubles himself.
When I went to the hospital, it was because we’d been fighting all day and I became hysterical. He was being a shit, but I went nuts all out of proportion to what was going on. It had been a long time coming, I think, in that it got me to finally go to the hospital and get some help.
We are two stubborn, bright, funny, loving, intense, troubled people. We would be hard on anyone. We are hard on each other.
My paternal grandparents, from what I hear, sometimes couldn’t stand each other. They’d divide the kids and go live in different houses. My Grandpa was loved by everyone, my Grandma was apparently an evil witch. They managed to raise nine kids together and make it to see their fiftieth anniversary. I don’t know how they did that. I don’t know how anyone does.
Back in the old days, marriage was for life. Richer or poorer, better or worse, love or hate. Divorce was frowned upon, people were encouraged to work it out. That isn’t true anymore. People go through half-a-dozen marriages sometimes, or more, before they die. My dear friend Bruce is on #3, and he’s only 37. I have never been married, but I’ve had a few longer relationships. Sometimes they end with me throwing things.
I don’t know what makes love last. I don’t know how much you’re supposed to fight to keep something going when it’s so easy in today’s society to just walk away.
What I do know is that I am immensely lucky that I had Travis to come home to when I left the loony bin.
That’s enough for now.
One striking feature of borderline personality disorder– striking because it is so accurate for me– is described like this: “A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).”
I have cut people out of my life for slights that, looking back, may have been better responded to in a more measured way. When I got my diagnosis of BPD last year, it caused me to reexamine my harsh and unforgiving attitude about what I saw (at the time) as betrayal.
I managed to mitigate a lot of the disordered thinking that BPD lends itself to, even before my diagnosis, because I resolved some time ago not to be an asshole if I could avoid it. I knew that I could have monstrous mood swings and a lot of self-destructive behaviors. So I taught myself ways to be less of a jerk, and they worked, mostly.
But I know that I have that tendency to idealize people, to put my friends, family, and lovers on very high pedestals, and then feel betrayed and devastated when they fail to be everything I thought they were or could be to me. I have ruined friendships, pushed people away, and caused some very nice people to never want to be in a room with me again.
The struggle now is to separate rational, righteous indignation from… well, tantrums. To realize that my loved ones are, above all, human, and humans make mistakes. No one can be everything to anyone else, and my disorder makes me prone to try to suck the life and love out of people.
I am terrified of abandonment, terrified of being alone in the greater sense, but my disorder has made me act in ways that have caused people to get fed up and leave me. Over and over. It’s a vicious circle. Abandonment leads to greater fear. Fear leads to more abandonment.
I know that I am responsible for my own behavior. But last year I graduated, in my diagnoses, from “mild” to “serious.” Knowing that I have always been seriously mentally ill is both comforting and horrifying. Coupled with the bipolar II I was also diagnosed with (at least it’s the less severe form!) I know now that I have always been a fucking mess. And I think, considering everything, I’ve done a damned fine job of building myself into a decent, loving, caring person.
But reading through the list of the symptoms of my mental illness, I see my whole life, every relationship of every kind, all of it.
I wonder how I can change without losing myself. I wonder what the best version of myself actually is. I wonder when I’ll stop doubting my own feelings, because now I know that seeing life through the veil of my unstable emotions has warped almost every intense experience I’ve ever had.
And that’s a lot to process.
I am a writer. My experiences, almost when I’m experiencing them, become narratives. My life is a series of stories.
But I’m realizing that a lot of the stories I tell are needlessly tragic or dramatic, that every lost love either was the purest love or the greatest heartbreak or most damaging betrayal. I’ve been spinning and repeating these narratives about how I’ve never been seen, loved truly, or deeply desired and wanted for who I really am.
Part of healing will involve being more honest and less inclined to cast myself as the tragic heroine in all these stores of love gone wrong.
When I was in high school, I weighed (at various times) between 98 and 115 lbs. When I got up to 115, I felt fat. When I was under 110, I felt good about myself.
When I got my driver’s license in early 1998, I wasn’t yet 17. The weight listed was the same as on my permit (back when it was true): 105 lbs. I chuckled to myself because I knew for a fact I’d never get back to that weight again. It was a funny fiction, and something I didn’t bother to change. I had that same info on my ID (including the nearly-identical replacement) until I was 29.
This is what I looked like when I was 17, at about 110, much of which was muscle, because I was in the “best” shape of my life.
I showed that picture to a friend last year, and he said “you look like you were dying.” I responded “I was.”
So much of my self-esteem was bound up in being a pretty girl, in being thin and lanky with perky tits and still able to eat whatever I wanted. When the above picture was taken, I was barely eating, and swimming several times a week. I’d just gotten out of my first serious relationship, and I learned for the first time what people mean when they say that anorexia is primarily a disease of control. Weight is something one can control when the rest of the world is chaos. And I was out of control and, yes, I look like I was dying because I was trying to gradually kill myself.
I gained weight and got somewhat healthy. I was still thin, about 120 lbs., but I wanted to lose weight. Not much. Ten pounds maybe. But I had the tiniest hint of a belly. I thought that if i could start working out again and eat better, I’d be as close to perfect as someone with tiny tits and a shitty jawline could ever be. Of course, I’d never be gorgeous but I could pass for pretty. With some work. Here’s a picture of me and my brother, dancing to “Old Time Rock And Roll” at his wedding in August 2001:
Two days after this photo was taken, I found out that my parents were getting divorced. That summer had been, frankly, horrifying and terrible (my parents’ divorce was just the latest disaster,) and I lost a shit-ton of weight again by that winter, when this photo was taken.
But I got “healthy” again. I gained weight. I was eating badly, and kinda chubby for my weight because I was so out of shape, but I was a size 6.
Around the time I turned 22, the anorexia came back with a vengeance. I went from a healthy-ish 125 (someone described me, at this point, as “fleshy”) to 105 in about six weeks. I’d gone through another bad breakup, couldn’t eat without feeling sick, and got ridiculously thin. There was a lot else that went into it; I was doing a lot of drugs and staying out all night and drinking a lot and mostly eating bran muffins from Starbucks and drinking chai. That’s where I got my calories. My shit smelled like… well, shit. Baby shit. Because I wasn’t eating enough solids, I had diarrhea all the time. I was always cold. Shivering when other people were warm.
This is the time in my life when I really wish that someone had spoken up and seen that I desperately needed help. Some people voiced concern, but many of them just stopped talking to me because I was too much drama to handle. I can’t blame them for that, looking back. Not only was I high all the time, I was sort of a bad person for awhile. And I hated myself, but I loved being thin. I knew I was hurting myself. I wanted to hurt myself.
But, of course, when I hooked up with Mike that next winter, he started force-feeding me. I got ridiculously fat!
The way my thighs kinda… blurp… down in those chubby little rolls was a great source of shame for me. I thought I was ugly and needed to start dressing like a fat old fatty because, well, look at me! I had gotten out of control!
And as the years went by, being with an abusive, alcoholic fucktard took its toll, and when we finally did break up in early 2008, I actually– gulp– was overweight. For the first time in my life. And I was goddamned horrified.
I still felt pretty, still felt desirable… but, y’know, for a fat chick. In that picture I’m probably about 170 lbs. I hadn’t weighed myself in forever, and when I first saw that number, I honestly felt like a failure. I enjoyed the big boobs, but I promised myself that I would lose weight and keep it off and never get that fat again. Over the next six months I lost 30 lbs by dancing, eating better, and not being in a relationship with an abusive, alcoholic fucktard.
So let’s skip to mid-2012. I’m living back in California, but about to move to Oregon. Life has not been swell. I had moved to SF, got dumped by my SF-dwelling boyfriend right after I moved, and then was in a car accident where I sustained a head injury and hurt my back. I was not ok. I’d had to move back to my mother’s, and I’d struggled to get medical care, got laid off from my job, and found out my mom was losing the house and I had to move again soon.
I was, once again, the heaviest I’d ever been. 180 lbs! Holy shitballs, I was wearing size 14! I no longer got skinny when I was stressed out, I ate and ate and ate. This photo was me trying to accept myself. Trying to get it under control again, but safely, smartly, with self-love and all that shit. I thought it would work this time. I resolved to swim all summer when I got back to Portland, to get actually healthy. But it didn’t go that way. Life continued to suck. My job situation remained unstable. I got up over 200 lbs.
And in September 2013, I got into another car accident, which triggered an emotional breakdown, which triggered an inpatient stay at a mental health facility, at which point I weighed 210. My boobs were, and are, HUGE. Well, huge for someone who used to have tiny bumps where other women (my mom included, even at her thinnest) had a RACK. I was always comparing myself to other people. I was always comparing myself to myself.
Which is why I was so shocked when that guy said “You look like you were dying” about that first picture up there. Because I’d always thought it was a great picture. I longed to have shoulder blades that jutted, arms that didn’t pudge, knees that I wasn’t ashamed to show in a skirt. He said something else, too: “I think you’re way hotter now.”
My mind was blown.
Who would want a girl with this body? Stretch marks where there used to be smoothness! Thighs that rub the fabric thin on the legs of my jeans! Arms that don’t fit into some dress shirts! CELLULITE.
I’ve lost something like 15 or 20 pounds in the last few months. I’m eating better. I plan to start exercising. And after almost 33 years of a life that has been, in so many ways, colored by my shame over my body (even when I was super thin,) I think I’m ready to fucking STOP. Just stop.
My self-worth doesn’t depend on which parts jut and which parts pudge. My moral character has nothing to do with numbers on a scale. I’m actually a bit sickened by the fact that I know how much I weighed in all of those photos. Why does it matter? Who cares?
I care, I guess. Some other people might care. But what bothers me now is that my back hurts all the time. I don’t move as well as I used to. Plus-size clothing can be super cute, if you know how to shop, but mostly it’s pretty sad. Trying to buy a cute bra when you’re sporting double-D cups is… hard. They’re all “smoothing” and “minimizing” at that stage. As if fat chicks don’t want hella cleavage too.
When I was thin, I hated my tiny tits, and hated myself for not being more “womanly,” whatever that means. When I got fat, every time I reached THE FATTEST I HAVE EVER BEEN OH MY LORD I hated myself for my lack of self-control. I have always been vain, and I have always felt not-good-enough. These things are inexorably linked.
So now, a bit into the new year that followed the worst year of my life (and that’s saying something,) I’m resolving to just… be okay. Be okay with wherever I am, whatever I look like. Be okay with not being the hottest girl in the room, not having a 26-inch waist, not being “perfect.”
And I have a goal weight. 150 lbs. Because of all the pictures of my body, this is the one that makes me the happiest:
This is me at 29 or 30. This is what I looked like and weighed and how I dressed when I was happy. I had curves, but I wasn’t fat. I had a waist, but I wasn’t skinny. My boobs were a tolerable 36C. I could zip up my Doc Marten high heeled boots. And I went out all the time, and I danced, and I ate a lot of avocado, and while I still thought I was fat and needed to DO MORE so I WEIGHED LESS, I did generally feel pretty good about myself. I didn’t worry about what I ate, but I tried to eat well. I didn’t go out of my way to exercise, but I did get exercise. This is the same era when the below photo was taken:
That’s the biggest I’d smiled in a picture in about ten years.
I no longer aspire to be skinny. Not just because it’s unrealistic, but because it’s unhealthy for me. I worried about my weight so much more when it was close to 100 lbs than I do now that it’s close to 200. I was obsessed. Now I’m merely concerned. I want to be healthy and in less pain and able to move around without having to worry about throwing my back out. I want to have boobs that don’t weigh so much that they yank on my shoulderblades (no longer jutting, of course.) I want to be able to zip my Docs again, damn it.
But I’m willing to be patient. I’m willing to give it time. And I’m willing to love myself, as I am, and be kind to myself. Which is something I never was when I had a model-skinny body and turned all the heads.
I never realized how gorgeous I was, just as I was. I never realized that the prettiest thing about me was the light in my eyes. I thought that my life would be easier, better, happier, if I was perfect, but looking back, I see that I wasted years of my life and so much energy trying to be something that isn’t only unattainable, but illusory. There is no perfect.
And I didn’t write this to solicit compliments, or even moral support. It’s just what’s on my mind right now, looking through all these old pictures and feeling so very sad for the girl in the early ones. In a way, getting fat has been a blessing. Not being anywhere within shouting distance of my old ideas of “perfect” has liberated me, mostly, from the desire to be “perfect.” Because life is short, and I’ve wasted enough of it.
And, well, I think I look hotter now than I did when I was starving. Pot belly, stretch-marks, and all.
This week has been hard, and I’ve only had to do three abbreviated days of group therapy. It’s been exhausting. No amount of sleep is enough, but at least I’m sleeping.
Talking is exhausting. Trying not to dominate the conversations is exhausting. Being open to the experience is exhausting, but less exhausting that remaining closed to it. Today it occurred to me that maybe it’s where I need to be, and that thought terrified me. I’m learning things. They are not easy things to learn, sometimes. There’s a lot of common ground. The insight can be validating, and it can also be terrifying. Yes, I know I’m using the same adjectives over and over. They are the best adjectives.
I get to go to bed soon.
Which is good. Because I am exhausted.
I went to karaoke tonight, for the first time in what might be months. I went to this silly hipster place because they have songs that no one else does, and I wanted to sing Madness. Which I did. So I was at this karaoke joint for about three and a half hours, by myself. Drinking (non-alcoholic) Ginger Beer, which is goddamned excellent.
Last weekend I felt like I was melting, becoming myself again. Now I feel numb. I fuckin’ rocked the three songs I did tonight, and I spoke to strangers, but I realized that I didn’t want to be around or talk to anyone I know. I don’t trust anyone. They might let me down. Most of them have. Caring is too painful. A switch has flipped and I just can’t bother to give a shit.
Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. I’ve certainly been sleeping a lot, and when I’m awake, I hardly talk to anyone. I’ve been reading the Harry Potter series. I’m partly into book six, and I think I only started on them last Saturday.
People kept saying I seemed manic. Now, when no one is looking, my affect is flat. When I talk to people, what I say is strange. I put on a happy face, but it aches. I can’t do it for long. I’d rather be alone.
I can’t afford to hope anymore. It’s all I can do to go through the motions. Christmas is in three days. I don’t have plans. I have nowhere to go. I’ll probably sleep all day so I don’t have to think about it.
I go through the motions. I eat because I have to, I sleep more than I have to, I have realistic dreams where something makes me angry or sad, and I wake up still angry and sad.
I had a dream a few months ago that I was dying, and someone from my past came to say goodbye. And I felt such peace, and I woke up sad. Because I’m not going to float away on a cloud of morphine and forgiveness. I have to keep on keepin’ on. So I do. And soon I’ll melt again, and feel things again. Maybe right now I should be grateful just not to be in terrible pain.
But I know from experience, numbness is worse.